Employer Cited for Exposing Workers to Trench Collapse

Employer Cited for Exposing Workers to Trench Collapse

Workers can be caught in a trench collapse in mere seconds, a hazard that can cause injury and even death.

Trench collapses remain among one of the deadliest hazards in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. From 2011 to 2018, trench cave-ins resulted in 203 fatal injuries—all of which could have been prevented with required safety measures.

Now, the agency is citing an Ohio employer for exposing its employees to the hazard of collapsing walls by not installing trench safety boxes. An OSHA investigator observed a worker in an unprotected trench while installing sanitation sewer pipes in a 15-foot-deep trench in November of 2021. The investigation also found that the pipe layer had to walk the length of the 75-foot trench to enter or exit because the employer had failed to provide a safe means of egress.

OSHA cited Lanigan Construction LLC for two willful and four serious safety violations and proposed a total of $214,636, according to a press release.

"The company owner and foreman were onsite and allowed the pipelayer to work in hazardous conditions knowingly," explained OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery in Cincinnati in the press release. "We cannot stress enough how important it is for employers to review and then implement required safety measures."

The employer was also cited for failing to provide personal protective equipment and for placing soil piles closer than two feet from the edge of excavation, creating a hazard for the soil to fall back into the trench.

OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. Find all the information you need for safe work here. In addition, The National Utility Contractors Association has declared June 2022 "Trench Safety Month." OSHA will collaborate with the association for "Trench Safety Stand Down" week, June 20-24, 2022.

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